Questions tagged [vowel-quantity]

For questions about vowel length.

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About stress marks and conventions

I've followed an advice about studying stress marks. I find very elegant putting all the breves and macrons. But, in differents dictionaries several conventions are used. For example, the word consŭl, ...
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Sapphic metre in Catullus 51.10

I am trying to understand the metre of Catullus 51, and this line has me baffled: tintinant aurēs, gemina teguntur The standard sapphic eleven-foot metre is – ⏑ – ⏓ – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ – –, that is 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥 (𝅘𝅥...
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Is it rare to elide the final vowel if it is long?

In the Ars Poetica we find the line: posse linenda cedro et levi servanda cupresso which pedecerto scans as Pṓssĕ lĭnḗndă cĕdro‿ḗt lēuī́ sēruā́ndă cŭprḗsso In C.O. Brink's commentary on Horace we ...
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Knowing the two quantities of 'est'

There are several forms of ĕsse and ēsse (= edere) that only differ by the quantity of the initial vowel, perhaps the most common one being ĕst/ēst. How do we know this difference in quantities? ...
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6 votes
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Why is ū long in "Vitruvius"?

Lewis & Short and Gaffiot's dictionaries both mark long ū in the name Vitrūvius. How do we know this, and do we know the reason for it? In my experience, most words with the sequence -uvi- + vowel ...
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8 votes
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Was vowel quantity observed when singing?

It's well established that vowel length was phonemic in Latin, and that it played an important role in poetic verse. It seems probable to me that it also mattered when singing, but do we have evidence ...
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Why is the prefix con- sometimes short, sometimes long?

A friend sent me this image: Her question was simple: Is the Latin any good? The Latin indeed is good, and if one accepts the English to be in LOLcat, the English checks out as well. However … I also ...
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Compensative lengthening of ε and ο to η and ω in Homeric Greek

In the grammar section of Pharr and Wright’s Homeric Greek section 601, the following is stated: The loss of one or more consonants in a word usually occasions the lengthening of the preceding vowel. ...
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How did Caesar pronounce Latin overlined vowels?

I am a beginner with Latin and am confused about the overlined vowels. The textbook I have explains these via vowels of English words, but I think that is unsatisfactory, because when learning other ...
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Syllable and mora count for long vowel with iota subscript?

Introduction I have begun learning Ancient Greek with the revised edition of Clyde Pharr’s work. Some of the case endings are (as expected) slightly different than what I have seen to be the case in ...
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Can vowel length be detected somehow in prose?

There are some words that appear to be complete homonyms other than by the length of a vowel. For example, there is the word labellum, which can mean either a lip (part of the body) or a basin/sink. ...
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What is the correct vowel quantity for the participle of legō?

In the following, vowel quantities which I am uncertain of, will be marked with both a breve and a macron, so they should not be considered the answer; that is what I am searching for. This whole ...
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4 votes
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Which is correct? Eugenius or Eugenīus or both?

Checking the dictionary entries for Eugenius, I was surprised to find different vowel quantities depending on whether it was the adjective or the noun. As you can see from the screenshot above, ...
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6 votes
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The correct use of the breve in Latin

Correct me if I'm wrong. There are 6 diphthongs in Latin: ae au ei eu oe ui So if one were to encounter ăĕ it would follow that both vowels would be short and do not together form diphthong which ...
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Does vowel quantity ever change in the root of a word during conjugation?

I have built a database of Latin words but am having a few problems. I have two databases, one is from Python's CLTK, the other is from online-latin-dictionary.com (OLD). The Python database is ...
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Inconsistent use of short and long vowel signs

To my knowledge every vowel is either long, short or belongs to a diphthong, there are no vowels which are medium in length. If a vowel belongs to a diphthong, it seems that modern writers will mark ...
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Why is the root vowels of 'salsus' and 'saliō' from 'sāl' shortened?

Working my way through the Duolingo course, I noticed that salsus has a short root vowel, even though sāl, sālis¹ is long-voweled. The etymology entry on Wiktionary states that the adjective is from ...
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9 votes
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Is the 'i' in 'videt' long or short?

I am currently reading Ørberg’s Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, where he thankfully makes use of the macron to distinguish long vowels form short ones. However, and I have seen this elsewhere as well,...
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Why does ‘lūdīs’ end in a short syllable in Ov. Ep. Sapph. 16?

In Ovid’s Epistulae 16.152–153, the following two lines are found (‘eligiac couplet’, I believe is the term in English): mṓre tuǽ gentī́s nitidā́ dum nū́da palǽstrā̆    lū́dis et és ...
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Is there a dictionary for pronunciation explanations?

All dictionaries I have seen that state vowel quantities simply state them but do not explain how the quantity of each vowel was determined. The same goes for the distinctions between vocalic and ...
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7 votes
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349 views

Did Latin ever have a rule of lengthening vowels in monosyllables ending in /s/?

I was surprised by the following portion of "Exceptions to rhotacism", by Kyle Gorman (2012): Latin has a bimoraic minimal word requirement, implemented by a process of Subminimal ...
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8 votes
3 answers
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Vowel shortening before another vowel: Exceptions

I am rather ashamed to admit that I used to pronounce Alexandrea (or Alexandria, cf. Ἀλεξάνδρεια) incorrectly in Latin, that is I mistakenly applied the famous rule "vocalis ante vocalem ...
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How do I know if there's an "invisible yod"?

I've been told that the first syllable of abiciō is long by position, because it's actually an underlying *abjiciō, which causes it to be syllabified as *ab-ji-ci-ō before the *ji simplifies to i. So ...
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Found eius but pēius in the same text: is it some kind of mistake?

While I was reading Lingua Latina per se Illustrata - Familia Romana, I noted something: the vocabulary list has ĕius but pēius, is that by accident? Also I noted meī as mēī in line 92 of chapter 25, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Are the two types of lustra distinguishable?

One meaning of the word lustrum is a sacrifice for purification done every five years; another is a house of ill repute. I'd always figured that the two were complete homophones. However, someone ...
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Under what conditions can "length by position" occur, and what does it actually mean?

I am studying Latin and one of the definitions in my textbook is kind of confusing. A syllable can be long in one of two ways: Length by nature. If the syllable contains a long vowel or ...
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How long is a banana?

The word banana and variants thereof appear in a number of languages. The origin appears to be the word banaana in Wolof, if Wikipedia is to be trusted. This word is straightforward to adopt into ...
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2 votes
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What evidence is there of a short vowel in the first syllable of "vallum"?

Two sources that I've come across indicate a long vowel /aː/ in the first syllable of the word vallum 'palisade wall' (that is, vāllum). This form is given in The Latin Language, by Charles E. ...
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6 votes
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What is the etymology of Ἁμαδρυάς (Hamadryas)? Is the second alpha actually long?

I am trying to find more information about the formation and pronunciation of the Greek noun Ἁμαδρυάς, taken into Latin as Hamadryas. L&S transcribes the second a of the Latin form with a macron: ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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What is the nature of variation between αι and α in (Pre-)Greek words?

When trying to answer a previous question about the patronymic derived from Asclepius, I came across the following quotation from Beekes in the Wikipedia entry on Asclepius: The name is typical for ...
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6 votes
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An unambiguous example of 'īt'

The regular perfect them form for "he went" is iit. In an answer to this question about two short versus one long vowel, TKR mentions that this form can be contracted to īt. In a text without macrons ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the evidence for a long vowel in χριστός "anointed" and Latin Christus?

The Greek word χριστός, used as a translation of Hebrew משיח "messiah", and meaning something like "anointed" (Liddell and Scott), apparently has a long vowel in the first syllable....
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7 votes
2 answers
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What evidence points to a long ō in the first syllable of nōscō's present-tense form?

I've read in various sources that the verb nosco 'know' had a long vowel in the first syllable in Classical Latin pronunciation: nōscō [noːskoː]. I'm wondering what the linguistic evidence is for the ...
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5 votes
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Does any Greek word have a geminate consonant after a long vowel?

I recently noticed a pattern in loans from Hebrew into Greek: the letter šin (or sin, or łin if you're really archaic) is transcribed σσ after a short vowel, σ elsewhere. My knowledge of Classical ...
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5 votes
0 answers
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How many vowel qualities did Oscan have?

Oscan was an Italic language related to Latin, which died out somewhere in the early centuries CE. It's notable for being used in the Fabulae Atellanae and for being the source of various loans into ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Where can I get a reliable list of words with macrons on?

When people are adding macrons to text, how do they know where the macrons should be? Is there a list somewhere? e.g. insula -> īnsula or īnsulā maxima -> maxima or māxima etc. I'd like to ...
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6 votes
1 answer
258 views

In ancient Attic Greek, how (un)stable were "ΝΣ"/"ΝΖ" and preceding vowels?

In Latin, it is thought (as far as I know) that within a single word, /ns/ and /nf/ were always preceded by a long vowel. This is a somewhat complicated result of a hypothesized sound change in words ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Are there specific exceptions to the rule of lengthening a vowel before "ns" or "nf"?

A while ago, I wrote an answer summarizing my understanding of the rule that a vowel is long in Classical Latin before ns or nf. As far as I know, this rule applied very regularly. But I'm not sure ...
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8 votes
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Is the U long or short in the forms ussi and ustus of the verb ūro?

I'm uncertain about the length of the u in the perfect and perfect passive participle stems of the verb uro /uːroː/. My research Lewis (1890) gives "ūrō ūssī, ūstus" but doesn't explain why....
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2 votes
1 answer
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Using "R" to mark vowel length

When messaging a British colleague, I noticed something interesting in the orthography. Where I would write "she killed" as necāvit, she writes necarvit. In a non-rhotic accent, this makes perfect ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Was the old ablative pronoun "med" or "mēd"?

In Classical times, the first singular ablative pronoun ("from me") was mē, with a long ē. However, the older form seems to have been med, with a final -d. Do we know whether this earlier form was ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Quality of final ĕ ĭ ŏ

Evidence from the Romance languages provides fairly good evidence for distinct qualities, [ɛ] vs. [eː], for ĕ and ē in stressed syllables when followed by a consonant. Likewise for ŏ and ō as [ɔ] vs. [...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Do contracted perfects have long or short vowels?

Many verbs have a suffix -v- in the perfect tense, which tends to disappear (or "contract" or "syncopate") before the ending: amā- > amāvisti > amāsti "you loved", audī- > audīvisti > audīsti "you ...
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6 votes
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Are there any words in Latin that are "light"?

In Latin, every syllable is either "light" or "heavy". A "heavy" syllable is one that has a long vowel and/or a coda consonant, and a "light" syllable is anything else. This distinction is important ...
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5 votes
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How long was the privative alpha?

In Ancient Greek, the "privative alpha" is a negating prefix, cognate to Latin in- (as in "in-conceivable", not "in-flammable") and English "un-". It survives in English in words like "a-typical" and "...
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3 votes
0 answers
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"Alēctō" or "Allēctō"?

"Alēctō" is the name of one of the Furies, made surprisingly famous in the Harry Potter books. It seems to come straightforwardly from Greek ă- "not" + lēg- "stop" + -tos "[adjective]", so "...
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5 votes
2 answers
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How can you tell whether prefixed ‘in-’ is the preposition ‘in’ or Indo-European ‘in-’?

Background The verb īnsum has the prefix in-. Prefixing in/in- to words, changes their meaning to ‘in’, ‘on’ et sim., or ‘un-’, ‘non’ et sim. (ɔ:¹ negation).² However, according to Wiktionary, the ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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What makes a syllable "heavy" or "light"?

The rules for positioning of syllable stress in Latin are relatively simple; they are as follows: In two-syllable words, the stress always falls on the first syllable. In three or more syllable ...
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3 votes
1 answer
611 views

How was iī pronounced?

Most of the time, Latin doesn't allow two instances of the same vowel next to each other: forms like *mee (from meus) are replaced with alternatives like mī. However, in I-stem second nouns, the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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vowel length in "pro" before "f"

When I'm reading macronized texts, the prefix "pro" always seems to be marked long, with the exception of a few words in which it's followed by the letter "f": profugus, for example, and proficīscī, ...
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